Category Archives: Reviews

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re: ZERO -Starting Life In Another World –

I’ve been fairly distant from anime for some time, but it’s not as though my interests have changed in any drastic way. This behavior of mine actually follows my usual patterns all a little too well. I’ll become overly obsessed and absorbed into something and then burn out on it. This applies to most things in my life. Who knows when I will have those interest rekindle. Oh well, now is the time for anime again I suppose.

This anime is one I remember hearing about from a colleague at work and decided to give it go. I was interested in watching it at the time and never got around to it, so it’s been sitting in the back of my mind for awhile. Since there are just too many anime out there to worry about I’ll just have to choose by instinct what I want to actually sink my time into. That’s how I’ll approach anime for now.

As far as the story goes, after both seasons are complete there is still much unexplained. This isn’t a bad thing though! I was certainly satisfied with the stopping point at the end of season two. What I mean is that there is plenty of room for the story to grow, and that is most definitely a good thing. I’m much more used to a series hitting a stopping point and, well it could end right there, yet it develops another season and a new story picks up out of nowhere. With Re:ZERO there are obvious developments that haven’t played out yet, so the anticipation for a continuation is all the more palpable.

So what is this anime about? Well, basically a guy we know little or nothing about, Subaru, is dropped into a fantastic world out of the blue.

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Being someone who is familiar with light novels, anime, and typical story tropes, he isn’t fazed by the situation at all and begins acclimating himself rather quickly to the new world around him. Bungling along, he is helped by a half elf girl who wields magic and has a strange fuzzy companion. She seeks something that was stolen from her and Subaru wishes to help in order to repay her for helping him. So, they spend the day together trying to track down the thief and just when they seem close to meeting with this thief in person… everything goes awry. The place they come to in the night is dark and quiet and Subaru investigates alone. He peers into the room with a lantern and sees a myriad of objects: weapons, a suit of armor, chests, and boxes, but no one is around. He steps into something soft and wet, and when he looks, a horrid realization seizes him as he looks upon a severed arm lying on the floor, further away lies a mutilated corpse. Intense fear grips him and a voice calls out of the darkness. In the next instant he lies in a pool of his own blood. The half elf girl, who had stayed outside comes now looking for him, but she soon joins him on floor. He grips her hand in his own as his life flies away and promises that he’ll save her–and then he’s standing there, there back in town, back before so much began. Somehow he’s been sent back in time.

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More is learned about this strange phenomenon, or power later on, but this is one of the key features of the story. When Subaru dies, he goes back in time. Like a video game, as he progresses through the events surrounding him, the point to which he returns changes like a save point. Or at least this is how he seems to describe this ability. If he dies, he has failed, but he gets to try again. He must find a way to not only live, but succeed in protecting those important to him. By doing that he can escape the cycle of death.

My impressions concerning Subaru’s character took a downward spiral as the series progressed. His motivations and his personality became questionable, but we were just finally learning what kind of person he was before this story began. Yet he is able to change; he is able to grow. I don’t know if I’ve come this close to hating a character and than having that sentiment turn around on me like this before. Please don’t stop watching if you find yourself loathing Subaru! You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.

Subaru is a true imperfect hero who must change and grow. What ended up impressing me most about him was his capacity to forgive. It doesn’t become much of a focus of the series or anything, but simply a part of who he is. Because of his ability to return back in time upon death, Subaru sees many different sides of people depending on how the events play out. Sometimes such people might treat him coldly or in unimaginable ways. Yet you can tell he holds no malice for them. It makes me wonder if I could do the same if I were in his place. I hope I could anyway. So yes, the characters are well done and actually show growth, which is something of a boon in the series I watch lately.

Another satisfying element to this anime were the fight scenes. The were choreographed well and tense. Some anime I’ve watched hype up their fights only end up giving you the dull and predictable. Unfortunately that included some anime that had fighting as one it’s main features. It’s nice to see something more original for a change.

Overall I was very pleased and hope that the anime adaption continues.

Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Impressions

To try to explain Kekkai Sensen… is difficult. The problem is that not all has been explained thoroughly enough that I can put all the pieces together and haven’t watched all the episodes out yet. I actually have had a little trouble following all of the details because so many things have been introduced.

Let’s break it down into parts:

Hellsalem’s Lot

Hellsalem's Lot

“Formerly New York City. Three years ago, in  the unprecedented disaster known as the ‘New York Apocalypse,’ a large gate opened up in the city’s center that connected to another realm known as the ‘Otherworld.’ Ever since, the world’s attention has been focused on Hellsalem’s Lot as a hyper-abnormal city, mixing this world with the Otherworld. It is said that whoever controls Hellsalem’s Lot will be poised to rule the world for the next thousand years. The fog that is emitted from the gate envelops the entire city, making entry from the outside world difficult. Transit in and out of the city is conducted via the one remaining bridge.”

A place filled with criminals, terrorists, conglomerates, religious groups, mafia organizations, refugees, spies from every nation… in other words a melting pot and a powder keg ready to explode. Three years ago this city was New York City, but after a gate to the Otherworld opened in the city it has become known as Hellsalem’s Lot. A conflagration of monstrous humanoids and creatures now live within the boundaries of Hellsalem’s Lot which is cut off in from the rest of the world by a strange mists. Within the waters there are gigantic creatures that attack anything that comes close the city.

Libra – The Secret Society of Sealed City of Magic

“A secret society of super humans that claim to strive for the balance of worlds in Hellsalem’s Lot. There is no precise information regarding its exact organization. It is said that the Otherworld is willing to pay billions for such intel.” The organization whose responsibilities lie in battling against the more deviant aberrations from Otherworld. Most members use their own blood as part of their special abilities and most members are also capable fighters.

Leonardo Watch

Leonardo Watch

Leonardo Watch is the newest member of Libra who has been accepted because of his coveted ocular powers, the Eyes of God. It is not entirely clear as to what these eyes are capable of, but some of its uses have been shown. One obvious use is to see what normally would not be able to be seen, such as objects or beings that are not normally observed. This includes creatures that move unbelievably fast–so fast that the eye cannot perceive. This also includes objects or beings that are under some kind of illusion or spell that either changes their appearance or makes them invisible altogether. Another use of the Eyes of God has something to do with changing the vision of others. This power was more confusing to understand than the first and I haven’t quite grasped how it functions or the entirety of its uses. The Eyes of God are a very rare artifact granted by a powerful entity from the Otherworld.

Fortunately, I recently had the honor of meeting Daisuke Sakaguchi, the voice actor of Leonardo Watch, and even was able to ask him a few questions. Since he had gotten into voice acting with goal of working on a Gundam series character, it should be no surprise that his favorite line comes from his character Uso Ewin from Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. He has also previously followed the Trigun manga.

Klaus V. Reinherz

Klaus Reinherz 2

The leader of Libra is Klaus V. Reinherz, a large gentlemanly man with fierce strength and powers. He has a very honest, compassionate, and genuine air to his character and not only is he an incredibly skilled fighter, he is also calculatingly intelligent. He is often seen playing chess on his computer or on a game board, usually against the second-in-command Stephen A. Starphase. He also plays a complex and mind numbing game called Prosfair.

“A chess-based board game originating from the Otherworld. Enjoys avid players in both the Otherworld and the human world. Marked by its highly versatile rules, which change to match the skill levels of the competitors. Has also attracted a large number of collectors, due to the artistic value of the pieces themselves.”

Although the game is similar to chess, as the game continues and the competition intensifies the complexity of the game increases. As time continues to pass the difficulty rises exponentially as new game pieces and game boards are added to the game.

As for his fighting style, Klaus uses the Brain Grid blood style which creates cross shaped weaponry and is known for its sealing techniques. One of the weapons Klaus seems to favor most is similar to a brass knuckle, except it is shaped into the form of a cross which he wears \on his left hand. Klaus is able to perform various techniques, one in which he strikes the ground and raises deadly crosses from beneath his enemies.

Oh, and anyone this beastly with Takamura’s voice from Hajime No Ippo is just bound to be epic.

Stephen A. Starphase

Stephen A. Starphase, as said previously, is the second-in-command of Libra who seems to be involved in gathering intelligence for the group. Stephen uses the Esmerelda Blood Freeze style, which emphasizes the use of kicks for its techniques which create ice or freeze the opponent when a kick makes contact.

Zapp Renfro

Zapp Renfro

Zapp Renfro uses the Big Dipper blood fighting style which uses blades and explosions. Zapp can manipulate his blood into a wire that he lights with a metal lighter he carries. Despite being shown to be quite a capable fighter, Zapp is no match against Klaus, whom he constantly challenges, but always fails against. A typical day for Zapp: wake up with a hang over, goes to eat fast food, makes some money (probably by beating up some unfortunate thugs who try to prey on him unknowlingly), loses said money gambling, drinks and womanizes, repeat. Zapp spends the most time with Leonardo out of the group and despite being a heavy nuisance, actually seems to care about Leonardo.

Chain Sumeragi

Chain works as part of the Lycanthrope Intelligence Agency with speed in unquestionable as the fastest character met in the series thus far. Chain is a werewolf, or as Zapp calls her, “Inu Onna (Dog Woman),” who does reconnaissance work for Libra.

Blood Arts

The fighting techniques and skills used by sine Libra members involve the use of their own blood to create weapons or devastating attacks. The styles used seem to be passed down through a master and student relationship as we have met one such master in the series who has taught two of Libra’s members. Blood style martial arts also vary over a wide category. Kekkai Sensen has introduced perhaps only a small number of these styles: sealing spells, explosions, manifesting weapons, blood bullets, and freezing. As Zapp’s master has shown, it is possible two master more than one style, but obviously is much more difficult to obtain.

So far I have been impressed by the fight sequences and the flexible nature of how the story has progressed. There isn’t much in the way of limitation as to what kind of situations the characters may find themselves in. You’re kind of tagging along with the antics sometimes, but I don’t dislike it. The style of the character’s expressions and their design is very nostalgic for me since Kekkai Sensen is a work by Yasuhiro Nightow, who previously created Trigun. There have even been times where I definitely see some homage to his previous work in the new series. There were three things have particularly stood out to me as relating to Trigun. Let me know what you think these are in the comments.

And so…

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Hopefully this will be long series, but thinking back on Nightow’s previous work Trigun I get the feeling that it will be cut short somehow. Disappointingly, I have yet to finish the Trigun manga despite being a big fan of the work. I don’t read much manga to begin with which is probably why I haven’t gotten around to it. The character Vash from Trigun is still one of my all time favorite characters of any fiction.

Naruto – has it been that long already?

Naruto

When I started this series, it marked when one of those transitions in my anime life style. At the time I wasn’t nearly as familiar with the vast library of what anime was comprised of. I also hadn’t watched many subtitled series at this point. Naruto ushered in a new age for me, so allow me a little slack in my praises for the series. Take the ridicule for the series however way you want. I’m not quite caught up to the current releases, but I’m getting there.

Fillers

So I’ve been watching Naruto in order to catch up to the recent releases and what do I get? Fillers. Fillers. Oh, and more fillers. The best that these episodes get out of me is faint amusement. I think out of the Naruto fillers I’ve seen, there was only one good one. The ratio of normal episodes to filler episodes is just plain ridiculous. How I wish there could be more anime releases like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, where there is absolutely zero filler. It would be nice. If it weren’t for the fillers I’d be able to rate the Naruto series so far as high as an 8/10, but with things the way they are it’d be more like 5/10. In the past I’d skip fillers, but lately.., “what the hell, I’ll watch the fillers.” Sometimes you have to anyway, since they’ll sometimes mix in real material with the filler.

It hurts my head how bad the fillers can get
It hurts my head how bad the fillers can get

When it comes to filler episodes, I’m trying to decide which method I like better: integration or separation. I would probably have to go with integration, because if the filler is separate from the ongoing story, than there is too much freedom in coming up with things that are incompatible with the original intention of the story. Throwing in things that make no such when compared to the built up canon is something I want to avoid as much as possible. Of course if I could, I’d just have the series with no filler at all.

Over the long haul

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Without exception, long series face a number of common problems, but I’d say that Naruto does a decent job of handling them. One such problem is character growth. Characters in a series like Dragon Ball or Bleach have a tendency of over reaching their limits. Being able to blow up an entire planet for instance is reaching the limit I would think. Once characters reach the limit, it’s hard to curb anything realistically down. If a character reaches a point where there should be no more room for growth, but they still have to grow as a character, then there is a problem.

So far Naruto has been doing a good job of maintaining a believability in the growth of its characters. There are some cases that come to mind where limits have come to bear, but throughout there has been mostly a gradual leveling of its characters and I’m highly appreciative of that.

Another problem I’ve seen in these long winded series is that when the main protagonist takes on the brunt of the action (which is normal to expect), they completely overshadow all the other supporting characters. The supporting characters usually become nothing more then one time saviors or movers of the story. They carry no real weight behind them after they’ve served their purpose and become nothing more than useless baggage. Most of the time these supporting characters can’t even get the job done themselves and eventually rely on the main protagonist to finish the job for them.

Naruto does a good job divvying out the fights to various characters in Naruto and building those characters up. Characters you’d never expect to be in the spotlight have a way of making their debut in surprising ways. In this way we get to see many different characters fight it out, with a large variety of fighting styles clashing against each other.

There are probably other reasons, but supporting characters from other shounen series I’ve watched (with the exception of Hunter x Hunter) have disappointed me in losing out too much to the main character.

Epic Fights

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There are times the animation goes into serious mode and those fights are just crazy spectacular. I don’t quite know what the conditions are for the animation change, but they are some of the best fights I’ve seen in anime. I’ll put the first of these fights aside though (I didn’t enjoy that one as much). If you’re new to Naruto and you come upon this animation change, just be sure that you’re about to witness some crazy s!*$#.

It’s Been Ten Years

Oh.. god its been this long. For most of the series I watch, I watch through the marathon method. Which means they are usually complete, done. I can watch it all relatively quick. There aren’t many long series that I’ve watched, so to still be watching a series that I watched what seems like way back feels so odd. It’s going to be sad when it finally comes to end.

Who Raised Naruto Anyway?

I’ve been wondering this recently after some flashbacks, but who raised Naruto? It’s bugging the hell out me.